Joe Biden's $7.3 trillion budget calls for more spending on border, tax increases for corporations

President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the League of Cities event Monday in Washington, D.C., shortly after releasing a $7.3 trillion budget proposal calling for increased spending at the U.S.-Mexico border and higher taxes for profitable corporations. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI
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March 11 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden on Monday unveiled a $7.3 trillion budget proposal featuring significantly beefed-up spending for security at the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as higher taxes aimed at profitable corporations.

Responding to political pressures from both the right and left amid an election year, Biden's budget proposes $2.9 billion for the Department of Homeland Security to handle the surge of asylum-seekers at the southern border while also leveling a 21% corporate minimum tax, as well as a higher surcharge on big, publicly traded companies that buy back their own stock.

After overseeing "a strong economic recovery" and amassing "one of the most successful legislative records in generations," the White House says Biden is now "seeking to protect and build on his administration's progress" through the new budget, including making sure the middle class "has a fair shot and we leave no one behind."

The budget aims to reduce the deficit by "cracking down on fraud, cutting wasteful spending, and making the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share," the White House said in a statement.

In fact, the administration says the measure will reduce the deficit by $3 trillion during the next 10 years, "on top of paying for new investments."

The proposal starkly clashes with a budget blueprint unveiled in September by the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, which features $11 trillion in domestic spending cuts over a 10-year period in a bid to balance the budget -- including $8.7 trillion in mandatory cuts to programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

That measure was approved by the chamber's Budget Committee in a party-line vote last week despite having little chance to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Biden's budget would add $4.9 trillion in new taxes on "American families and producers," House Republicans claimed, while asserting that rather than reducing the deficit, the measure would raise it by $18.2 trillion to $52.7 trillion by 2034.

Among the most controversial elements of Biden's budget is its response to oft-stated GOP claims that Biden is not doing enough to protect the southern U.S. border.

Under the $2.9 billion earmarked for Homeland Security would be spending to allow for the hiring of more than 2,000 border officials and 1,600 asylum officers, as well as money to beef up the fight against Mexican drug cartels and fentanyl traffickers.

The proposal comes a month after House Republicans, at the urging of likely GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, rejected a bipartisan deal that would have increased border security and given the president emergency powers to close the border during migrant surges.

"This budget invests in our homeland security today and lays the groundwork to protect the American people well into the future," Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement. "The president's budget continues to invest in the security of our borders, even as we continue to call on Congress to pass the February bipartisan border security legislation to provide urgently needed resources and tools to our frontline personnel."

On healthcare, the administration blasted what it called the Republicans' "dangerous, extreme abortion bans that eliminate women's ability to make their own decisions about their health" and touted a proposed $521 million increase in funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC said the funding would enable it prioritize its efforts to rapidly identify and respond to health threats, continue to address crises in mental health and drug overdoses and target more support for young families.

The budget request "outlines investments that will strengthen our nation's ability to prevent and respond to any health threat, from infectious diseases to overdoses," CDC Director Mandy Cohen said in a statement. "It also invests in public health at the local level so that communities have the resources and workforce they need to protect people's health."

The Food and Drug Administration also gets a bounce of nearly $500 million in the new budget to $7.2 billion, with an aim of enhancing food safety and nutrition, advancing medical product safety and helping to "support supply chain resiliency," according to FDA Commissioner Robert Califf.

"This new funding request will help us build on our accomplishments and also modernize our agency and operations as we plan for the future," he said, singling out efforts to strengthen the agency's public health capacity, advance its IT capabilities and improve its infrastructure across the board.

On the revenue side, Biden followed through with remarks made during last week's State of the Union address in which he touted his backing of Democratic progressives' calls for reducing inequality by making profitable corporations and wealthy individuals shoulder their "fair share" of the tax burden.

Corporations, the White House said, received "an enormous tax break" from legislation passed by Republicans and signed by Trump in 2017, resulting in shareholders and top executives "reap[ing] the benefits, without the promised trickle down to workers, consumers, or communities."

Biden's budget would set the corporate tax rate at 28% -- still well below the 35% rate that prevailed prior to the 2017 tax law -- while raising the current minimum tax rate on billion-dollar corporations from 15% to 21%, "ensuring the biggest corporations pay more of their fair share."

The proposal also takes aims soaring executive pay by denying tax deductions for all compensation over $1 million, thus discouraging companies from giving their executives "massive pay packages" and helping "level the playing field" across big corporations.

Meanwhile, the budget also quadruples the current stock buy-back surcharge from 1% to 4% to "address the continued tax advantage for buy-backs and encourage corporations to invest in productivity and the broader economy."

Biden also would impose a minimum 25% tax rate on the unrealized income of the very wealthiest U.S. households.